Friday 14th October 2005

Local pride at stake in North Kent Trophy clash

A lot is riding on Saturday's FA Trophy first qualifying round tie at Bourne Park between local rivals Sittingbourne and Chatham Town, writes Stephen McCartney.

With a home tie against Hastings United or Corby Town in the next round on 12 November at stake, both teams will be looking to get one over their rivals.

Chatham go into the game as favourites, in third place in the Southern League Division One East table, with 22 points from 12 games.  Their only two defeats in the league have been on the road, but the Brickies are unbeaten in the league on home soil, but are thirteenth in the table with 16 points from their 12 games.

Chatham, however, have collected four points from their last two games - a 3-1 win over Rothwell Town last Saturday was followed up by a 1-1 draw at Harlow Town on Wednesday night, with captain Steve Best's diving header giving the Kent side an early lead.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, Chats' boss Steve Binks is a happy man collecting four points this week but disappointed having conceded three penalties in their last three away games.

"Whilst I would have settled for this at the beginning of the week, yet again, it's so frustrating, to be given a penalty against us for the third away game running," he said.

"We've been so close yet again to getting maximum points.  However, with 12 games gone into the season, I'm absolutely delighted to be sitting where we are and every confidence that we have the ability in the squad, and the strength in depth, to maintain this level."

Both managers, however, admitted there is a lot riding on this Trophy clash, especially with £1,300 up for grabs for the winners, and another home tie in the next round.

"This could be a classic," Binks predicted.  "I think league form will go out of the window with local pride at stake, with several players having played for both clubs.

"There is also an excellent friendly rivalry between the two clubs, both on and off the field, which should make it a very enjoyable day.  I am really looking forward to it."

Sittingbourne manager, Steve Lovell added: "Apart from the financial rewards for the football club, it's another home game, and as I say it's a local derby and both teams want to turn each other over.

"Most of the players know each other, they are all around the same age band and have all grown up playing for local junior sides and played against each other for senior sides."

And both managers know the importance of progressing in this competition.

"Yes, there is good prize money at stake," said Binks.  "Knowing the next round draw, should we win, gives us an added incentive to progress.

"It really is about time the Chats had a decent cup run to be proud off."

The Brickies boss added: "Chatham have had a good start to the season and have been very consistent and it will be a tough game.

"But going by the league positions we will be going into the game as underdogs, there is no pressure on us, so hopefully we can go into it and get a result."

Reflecting on their past week, a 1-1 midweek home draw against a resilient Potters Bar Town, made up for a poor result at Stamford, when they lost 6-2, Lovell said: "Saturday was a bad day but I thought we played very well on Tuesday and deserved to take three points but just couldn't get the ball in the back of the net."

With his side seven points behind leaders Boreham Wood, Binks admitted his side should be at the top of the table.

"Very pleased yet a little peeved still," he said.  "We didn't deserve to lose our two games.  It's not a case of setting my sights too high.

"It's more so that we have been the better side in every league game so far this season, and could so easily be sitting at the top of the league."

On the injury front, Dan Tanner will be out of the Brickies side due to a twisted ankle and for Chatham, striker Rob Denness is now in a plaster cast for his broken wrist and Binks will make a decision before the game to see if he is fit to play.  Otherwise Chatham have a full bill of health and a fully fit squad to choose from - barring Gary Tilley of course, who won't be available until the new year.

With a big crowd expected at Bourne Park - may the best team win!

www.kentishfootball.co.uk grant permission for both clubs - or any other Kent clubs - to use this article on their websites and in their match day programmes.

Sittingbourne v Chatham Town
FA Trophy - First Qualifying Round
Saturday 15th October 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Bourne Park, Central Park, Eurolink, Sittingbourne